Carol’s place was every bit the mess it was the last time I was there, but things had been moved around a little. An avalanche had occurred in the pile of shoes by the door. A stack of books and papers began to recline on an easy chair. The cat had come down off the shelf, sat on the stairs, and licked its crotch. Space had been carved out from the mail covering the kitchen table to make room for a bowl of cereal. A few Fruit Loops floated in pink milk like life preservers left over from a bloody shipwreck. Garbage still overflowed and was still shoveled against a wall, but it was new garbage. One of her two teenage girls, all bare limbs, hair, and attitude, still stared at the TV, but it was a different show, a reality show where everyone hates each other, even though it was the same TV.
“You’re not watching coverage of the fire,” I said.
“Hummm,” said she.
“My Mom has company,” repeated the girl who had answered the door. “She’s upstairs.”
“I can wait.”
The attentive girl continued to stare. The other hadn’t looked at me yet. Someone on TV believed they were being thrown under the bus.
“Umm… what happened to your face?” said she. “And… and your hair?”
“Umm… that’s cool, I guess.”
I had begged the cabdriver for paper and pen to prepare a note for Carol if she wasn’t home. I stood amid the mess and frapped the note between my fingers, as boys used to make playing cards sound by placing them in bicycle spokes.
“Umm… like I said, my Mom has company.”
It didn’t register. My mind was somewhere else: on the mountainside where I had received my revelation.
My note said I had a close call. I almost died. I might not have much longer to live, but that’s OK. I learned what was important. What is important is to love. I learned what wasn’t important. Fear is not important. Fear is bullshit. I wasn’t going to let my life be ruled by fear. I was going to love every chance I could get. Would she choose love, too?
The girl had neglected the door after I came in and it still was open. The cat paused its cleaning, sauntered down the stairs, suddenly changed direction, and bolted outside.
“Your cat’s getting out,” I said.
“Missy!” she exclaimed and shut the door, too late.
“Mom’s gunna be mad,” said the other, never taking her eyes off the TV.
“Naw, she’ll be fine. She’ll be in a good mood when she comes down.”
The two giggled.
Did this mean Carol will be happy to see me?
It was only a couple of minutes later when I understood what they meant. A sound came from upstairs where Carol had company. It briefly got louder than the TV, until the girls heard too much reality and turned up the volume of their show. What I heard coming from upstairs was unlike the noise on the TV. It was not the sound of arguing, nor that of throwing, or being thrown under the bus. It was more like singing.
She sang, “Yes…yes…yes…yes…yes…yes…yes…oh, God, yes!”
It seemed as though Carol has no fear, she chooses love every chance she gets.
I ripped up the note, dropped the shreds on the carpet to add to the mess, and followed the cat out the door.